De la Cruz comes home to hero's welcome

By Joel Francis Guinto

(UPDATE) AFTER a two-week hostage drama that placed the entire nation on edge, truck driver Angelo de la Cruz finally returned home on Thursday.

De la Cruz arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board a Gulf Airlines jet from Abu Dhabi around 1:45 p.m. accompanied by his wife, his brother, and several officials who helped negotiate his release from the hands of anti-US insurgents.

The entire first class section was reserved for De la Cruz, his wife Arsenia, brother Jessie, and members of the Philippine contingent, including Ambassador Roy Cimatu, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, and Foreign Affairs undersecretary Rafael Seguis, MIAA General Manager Edgardo Manda told

"I wish to thank President Gloria (Macapagal) Arroyo and the government for giving foremost consideration to my safety," he said in a brief arrival statement. "I will never forget this."

Members of De la Cruz's family embraced the longhaired ex-hostage and burst into tears shortly after he passed through a VIP entrance at Manila airport wearing a baseball cap and white shirt.

Some 50 members of the De la Cruz clan, including his children, welcomed him.

Iraqi militants released De la Cruz on Tuesday after the Philippine government acceded to their demand to pull out its troops from the war-torn Middle East state ahead of its August 20 schedule. They had threatened to behead the father of eight children unless the troops left by the end of the month.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was quoted as saying on GMA Network's radio station dzBB that the De la Cruzes will be brought to the DSWD main office in Quezon City, where they will spend the night before returning to their hometown of Mexico in Pampanga province on Friday. (Originally posted at 1:53 PM)


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